Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An unquestioning approach?

Following the Presidential address and the introductory report of the Standing Orders Committee, UNISON's National Delegate Conference continues, as ever with the Annual Report of the NEC (and the Financial Statements), which also provides an opportunity for branches to ask questions.



Some years ago, the Annual Report was a comprehensive factual record. Now it reads more like a company's prospectus to its shareholders. Nevertheless, the right to ask questions of the Report, and the Financial Statements, is an important moment in the democratic accountability of our Executive to the representatives of the membership.



It is therefore disappointing that only 5 branches asked questions of the Annual Report, and only 4 of the Financial Statements. This is not an adequate level of scrutiny of an organisation which does so much.



In my experience of asking questions of the Annual Report and Financial Statements these are treated seriously and responded to helpfully, and it's a shame more branches don't engage with the process.



This year's Annual Report managed to upset the Welsh delegation through some unfortunate proofreading errors. Thereafter only a couple of delegates tried to ask verbal supplementary questions - and the one which would have been less welcome was hardly facilitated, which was a shame, although, in fairness, it's a tricky bit of Conference to Chair.



I hope that in future years more branches will use the opportunity afforded by the "supreme Government" of the Union (as Rule D.1.1 defines National Delegate Conference) to hold to account those who lead our Union on their behalf. Particular congratulations to the Tower Hamlets branch for trying to do this.

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